On-site or off-site treatment of medical waste: a challenge


Treating hazardous-infectious medical waste can be carried out on-site or off-site of health-care establishments. Nevertheless, the selection between on-site and off-site locations for treating medical waste sometimes is a controversial subject. Currently in Iran, due to policies of Health Ministry, the hospitals have selected on-site-treating method as the preferred treatment. The objectives of this study were to assess the current condition of on-site medical waste treatment facilities, compare on-site medical waste treatment facilities with off-site systems and find the best location of medical waste treatment. To assess the current on-site facilities, four provinces (and 40 active hospitals) were selected to participate in the survey. For comparison of on-site and off-site facilities (due to non availability of an installed off-site facility) Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) was employed. The result indicated that most on-site medical waste treating systems have problems in financing, planning, determining capacity of installations, operation and maintenance. AHP synthesis (with inconsistency ratio of 0.01 < 0.1) revealed that, in total, the off-site treatment of medical waste was in much higher priority than the on-site treatment (64.1% versus 35.9%). According to the results of study it was concluded that the off-site central treatment can be considered as an alternative. An amendment could be made to Iran’s current medical waste regulations to have infectious-hazardous waste sent to a central off-site installation for treatment. To begin and test this plan and also receive the official approval, a central off-site can be put into practice, at least as a pilot in one province. Next, if it was practically successful, it could be expanded to other provinces and cities.